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Successful Second Year for UM Real Estate Fall Forum

By Griffin Bates

University of Mississippi

Hutt Cooke (left), with Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, discusses career opportunities with an Ole Miss business student at the recent Real Estate Fall Forum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

More than 60 students at the University of Mississippi had a chance to meet with a diverse group of real estate companies recently and expand their networks within the industry.

The Real Estate Fall Forum, sponsored by the UM School of Business Administration, hosted 11 companies to campus to speak with students interested in careers in real estate. The event took place Oct. 21 in the Johnson Commons East Ballroom. 

This was the second year of the forum, but it gained the attention of many students and companies. Sergio Garate, assistant professor of finance, felt that there was not a large enough presence from real estate companies at the university’s career fairs so he worked to create an event for job opportunities in the field.

“We decided to do something that was more focus-oriented towards real estate,” Garate said. “When I started talking to all of the employers, they mentioned that they wanted to talk to our students about their companies and the opportunities they had to offer.”

The companies represented included BBG Real Estate Services, based in Dallas. Allison Johnson, director of client relations for BBG’s Jackson office, enjoyed her experience at the forum. 

“We love the connections we have made with the University of Mississippi and getting to meet new students,” she said. “We are always excited to get our name out there, find new talent and make connections with people for future opportunities.

“We get to learn about the students and what they’re doing in school, but they also get to learn about who we are, what we do and how we are structured. This gives them a well-rounded view of what the real estate industry looks like.”

The companies involved in this forum want to do more than find new employees, Garate said. They want to educate students about the many opportunities in real estate.

Among the students taking advantage of the occasion was Chapman Bryant, a senior from Richmond Hill, Georgia. Bryant, who is double majoring in managerial finance and real estate, found the forum to be helpful for himself and others pursuing careers in real estate.

“I would recommend other students to attend these career fairs because it allows for an opportunity to learn a lot about the industry and to ask questions to professionals within the industry,” he said.

“I really enjoyed how there was an opportunity to talk one-on-one with these professionals and to learn more about the many different career opportunities in real estate.”

This year, Garate introduced a panel of real estate professionals who discussed their unique career paths and provided insight to students. The panel consisted of Tracy Wofford, from Cushman & Wakefield in Madison; Brian Estes, from Estes Group of Ridgeland; and Brian Phillips, from Randall Commercial Group in Oxford. 

“Going forward, I think we should offer some virtual interviews because some employers are unable to attend in person,” Garate said.

“After graduation, our students have an employment rate between 90% and 95% within the real estate industry, so I think this experience greatly helps our students. My goal is to make sure our students are prepared to do well in this industry.”

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Adam Brown
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